Victoria Falls, on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. About one million people visit the majestic waterfall each year.
People flock to Victoria Falls because it is one of the largest waterfalls in the world, with the largest single sheet of falling water.
The thundering waters falling over the basalt cliffs and sending up spray that is visible for miles is a sight that is unparalleled elsewhere in the world.
You can see the falls via a river cruise, from viewpoints, or by going on an adrenaline-filled activity such as white water rafting. Nearby attractions include Livingstone Island and wildlife viewing in Hwange National Park.
A visit to Victoria Falls is on many people’s bucket lists, but you need to keep practical concerns in mind before turning a bucket list goal into a reality. For example, it pays to research safety before going to a new destination.
But don’t worry — our travel experts created this safety guide to help you evaluate if a trip to Victoria Falls is safe or not. Keep reading for detailed information, including crime rates, that can help you stay safe.
Is Victoria Falls Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes. Victoria Falls is a safe place to visit (as long as you are mindful of the guardrails). While the countries that share control of Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe, have some problems, the area around Victoria Falls is safe.
There is some crime, but it is mostly minor. Victoria Falls is located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. You can obtain a KAZA Univisa, which allows you to visit both Zimbabwe and Zambia freely for 30 days.
Since there are advantages to seeing the falls from both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides, this is a good option to make the most of your trip.
A good place to start researching the safety of this destination is to look at the safety of traveling to both Zambia and Zimbabwe. The security situation in both countries will naturally affect what it’s like to visit Victoria Falls.
According to the Canadian government advisory, visitors to Zimbabwe should exercise a high degree of caution. The country has a fairly high crime rate, including petty crime and more violent incidents.
Crime is common around popular tourist destinations, including Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe also had recent incidents of civil unrest.
Local authorities brutally suppressed the protests of recent years, although people still take to the streets in response to government missteps. However, protests primarily occur in the capital of Harare.
Civil unrest rarely affects the quiet, remote region around Victoria Falls. Zambia is a more peaceful country to visit. The Australian government gives citizens the green light to visit Zambia as long as they take normal precautions.
However, the crime rate there is also fairly high. Rates of petty and violent crime are elevated. Both Zambia and Zimbabwe have their fair share of problems. However, Victoria Falls is one of the safest destinations in both countries.
Problems that affect the rest of the country, such as civil unrest and high crime rates, rarely affect Victoria Falls. Part of that has to do with the remote location of Victoria Falls, which is far away from both capitals.
Both governments also have a vested interest in making Victoria Falls a safe place to visit because they rely on tourism income. You will encounter special Tourism Police patrolling around Victoria Falls, and the infrastructure such as the roads are usually better.
Problems you might encounter at Victoria Falls or in the towns near the waterfall are usually petty in nature, such as:
- Bag snatching
- Theft from vehicles
The nature around Victoria Falls is arguably more dangerous than the people. Instead of worrying about crime, your primary concern should be ensuring that you stay safe while you visit the falls.
Be very careful as you walk along the paths. Never go off the marked paths and stay far away from the edge. Make sure you have appropriate footwear for the slippery terrain. There have been cases of tourists slipping and falling to their deaths.
Adventure tourism is popular around Victoria Falls, including white water rafting, bungee jumping, and swimming in one of the two safe pools. Make sure that you book a reputable tour operator.
Depending on the season, some activities may be unsafe. Finally, Victoria Falls is home to lots of wildlife. Never approach animals such as baboons or feed them — no matter how adorable they are, they are still wild.
Don’t attempt to swim in the Zambezi River outside of the two designated swimming pool areas. The river is home to dangerous animals such as hippos.
Crime in Victoria Falls
Crime is a concern when you travel to any popular tourist destination. Victoria Falls is no different. Getting crime statistics for the falls themselves is difficult as the waterfalls are poorly populated.
Even Numbeo, a popular survey aggregator for crime worldwide, does not have data on Victoria Falls. To gauge the safety of Victoria Falls, look at crime data for nearby towns or rely on anecdotal evidence.
Victoria Falls is also the name of the town closest to the waterfall on the Zimbabwe side of the border. The town is essentially a resort town whose economy revolves around visitors to Victoria Falls.
That is why you will see lots of Tourism Police patrolling, as the authorities want to ensure that tourists have a good time. Rates of violent crime such as muggings are low.
However, you might encounter petty theft, and previous visitors complained about the overly aggressive vendors. Livingstone is the city closest to Victoria Falls on the Zambian border.
It has a relatively low crime rate, especially when compared to other Zambian cities. However, the crime rate has increased over the past two years. Some tourists have even been victims of armed robberies and carjackings.
The area around Victoria Falls is probably one of the safest places to visit in both Zambia and Zimbabwe as the crime rate is low to moderate. However, you will still need to exercise safety precautions.
The most likely crime you will encounter when you visit Victoria Falls is petty theft. In its travel advisory for Zimbabwe, the Canadian government singles out tourist destinations such as Victoria Falls as potential crime hotspots.
Pickpocketing and bag snatching are common at tourist destinations such as Victoria Falls. While you take in the beauty of the waterfalls, don’t let the beauty distract you from taking basic precautions such as protecting your valuables.
Take your photos and put your camera away. Don’t flash your valuables as that singles you out as a target. Make sure that your things are always secure.
Carry valuables in a way that they are not easy to snatch. For example, don’t carry your camera or phone in your hand, put it in your bag or loop a strap around your neck or wrist.
Hold on to your bag at all times, even when sitting down to eat (that means never dangling your bag from the back of the chair).
Opt for a bag that is secure, not an open tote bag. There have been some reports of thefts from hotel rooms, both on the Zimbabwe and Zambian side. If your hotel or room has a safe, use it to store your valuables.
Make sure that you don’t leave valuables out in the open. Visitors to the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls often experience aggressive vendors or touts.
These people are not robbers, but they may get in your personal space while trying to sell you something or scam you by overcharging you for a cheap souvenir.
Politely decline or ignore them. Tourism police will usually step in if they see a vendor truly overstepping boundaries with a visitor.
Violent crime in Victoria Falls is rare on both the Zimbabwe and Zambia sides. However, there have been a few incidents of robberies targeting tourists.
There have been a few incidents of robbers breaking into hotel rooms and attacking tourists, even while they are in their rooms. Be careful when booking your accommodation. Read reviews carefully, especially reviews that mention safety.
Forums such as TripAdvisor and Booking are helpful for finding out accurate information about what other travelers experienced. When you book your accommodation, ask your hotel and lodge about what precautions they take to protect tourists.
There have also been incidents of muggings and armed robberies around Victoria Falls, particularly on the Zambian side. These incidents increase after dark, so try to avoid moving around then.
Make sure that you are safely back in your accommodation soon after the sun sets. This is a good rule of thumb to follow whenever you are traveling in Zambia and Zimbabwe anyway.
After dark, crime increases in both countries. Plus, after dark, the risk of running into an annoyed wild animal (a real possibility in the remote area around Victoria Falls) increases.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Avoiding bad areas is one of the most important tips that you get whenever you travel somewhere. If you wander into the wrong neighborhood, your risk of being the victim of a crime increases drastically.
There are few bad areas around Victoria Falls. Your risk of being the victim of a crime is similar wherever you stay — mostly low, but the risk exists. The most dangerous area in Victoria Falls is above the waterfall itself.
Be very careful not to stray to the edge and follow all posted warnings about sticking to the footpaths. It is a steep drop, and you do not want to find yourself on the wrong end of it.
Things to Consider
Here are some additional safety tips that can help make your trip to Victoria Falls even better:
- Only book with reliable tour operators. Many of the activities available around Victoria Falls, from white water rafting to bush walks, come with some degree of danger. Read reviews of your tour operator and make sure that they are reliable. You don’t want to go on an activity with someone that doesn’t prioritize your safety.
- Bring antimalarial medications. Victoria Falls is located in a high-risk area when it comes to malaria. Invest in high-quality bug spray and wear long, loose clothing to prevent mosquito bites.
- Always stay on the paths. Sticking to the paths lessens your risk of falling and injuring yourself. Plus, when exploring the nature areas around Victoria Falls, sticking to the paths ensures that you lessen your risk of a wildlife encounter.
- The tap water is not safe to drink. Drink bottled water or buy a water bottle with a filtration system. You don’t want to get ill while you are on your trip due to drinking the water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions that you may want answered when you visit Victoria Falls:
Do I need malaria tablets for Victoria Falls?
Yes, you should take malaria tablets with you when you go to Victoria Falls. The falls are located in a high risk zone for malaria, and you will need medication on hand to protect yourself.
Is it worth it to go to Victoria Falls?
A trip to Victoria Falls is absolutely worth it. There are few other places on Earth that match the sheer majesty of seeing the massive spray of water. Plus, there are plenty of activities to do in the area, such as safari parks and adventure tours.
Is Victoria Falls better than Niagara?
Niagara Falls may be more famous in the Western world, but Victoria Falls is more impressive. The waterfall is taller and wider, creating a more impressive sight than Niagara.
Are there mosquitoes in Victoria Falls?
Victoria Falls is located in a lush, wet area, creating the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. These mosquitoes carry diseases such as malaria and yellow fever. You should get extra vaccinations before you visit.
Can you swim in Victoria Falls?
There are only two areas of Victoria Falls where you can swim, called Angel’s Pool and Devil’s Pool. You can only visit them with an organized tour.
So, Is It Safe to Visit Victoria Falls?
Victoria Falls is a must-visit destination for lovers of nature. Although there is some crime in the area, authorities invest a lot of effort into keeping this destination safe.
As long as you don’t wander too close to the edge or provoke the local wildlife, you should have a safe trip. So what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience all that Victoria Falls has to offer!